A blog of two back we offered a discourse called “Life Is About Purpose.”  This post is somewhat of a companion piece that postulates one way to keep the purpose/passion is to voluntarily or be forced to change jobs.

Let me explain.

Had some good news from friend Barbra Held last fall.  After 11 years with the Australian government’s G’Day USA, the largest foreign country promotion held annually in the U.S., she was appointed Vice President of Event Production for the Television Academy.

Barb’s transition to the TV Academy reminded me of a theory I’ve had for many years, i.e., people should be forced to change jobs at the end of about 10 years.

The reason I believe this is that after this long in the same position, it is difficult to avoid getting stale or complacent.  Not sure you can keep the challenge going to improve and expand after that long of tenure.

You may enjoy the job and what the job entails, but is it helping you grow and take on more responsibility?  I’m not sure that without a promotion or the assumption of significant additional responsibility you and/or your organization will profit from keeping you in the same job for that long.

This certainly is an exciting new opportunity for Barb and her timing fits my theory perfectly.  Delighted she got this new gig and fondly remembers her getting her start in L.A. with us at MAS as a trade show coordinator.

Another example brought this into focus just recently.  Jennifer, a friend, had been in a management position in the Public Defender’s office of Juveniles for over 12 years, having been with the PD office a total of 25 years.  She was competent and doing her job well.  The fire wasn’t burning as brightly, however, and she was beginning to look forward to retirement in two years.

Then when out of the blue she was asked to take over one of the five management positions in the adult division—a whole new ball game.  Much more complex cases, some of which involve the death penalty.

This would be a demanding new challenge requiring a much broader scope of responsibilities and direction.  She now had a spring in her step and was changed up over this new assignment.

Cindy, who posts my blogs, even chimed in to say she was chairperson of the annual Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade for 12 years.  It was two years too long, she reflects.

So once again my original premise on the need to force job changes after 10 years or so was validated.

So, how come I stayed with MAS for over 25 years, you ask?  MAS was constantly changing so the job was never the same.  We started managing trade associations, and over the years we added trade shows, then publishing and then some consumer events.

John Gardner, former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, said it best and certainly applies to staying in a job too long.  He called it “personal stagnation.”  He said, “we build out prisons and serve as our own jailers.”

According to Gardner, “Young countries, businesses and humans all have several key commonalities:  they are flexible, eager, open, curious, unafraid and willing to take risks.”  However, over time these organisms experience, “complacency, apathy and rigidity…(and) it is at this junction that great civilizations fall, businesses go bankrupt, and life stagnates for people.”

Probably can’t pass a law to make job changes mandatory, but voluntarily you should really look at the advantages this prescription offers.

You have to keep shuffling the deck, create new challenges and explore new avenues to keep your interest high and your energy flowing in the right direction.



Filed under Blog


  1. Randy Bauler, CEM

    Art – As a complacent, apathetic and rigid 20-year employee of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), I resemble your blog remarks.

    Of course, your theory/premise may hold up under further scrutiny.

    I started as Conference and Exhibits Director from 1996-2000 (4+ years) for AACN’s for-profit subsidiary InnoVision Management, was “reorganized” to AACN Exhibits Director and served 7 years (2001- 2007), and then “promoted” to AACN Corporate Relations & Exhibits Director, where I’ve served for the past 9 years as the healthcare industry evolved rapidly.

    And just to keep my energy flowing and in an effort to grow from some new challenges, I also served on the IAEE Board of Directors 2004-2009 (including IAEE Chairman in 2008) and then on the HCEA Board of Directors 2010 – 2014.

    So I guess your theory is plenty valid and offers great advice for most of us. Just hoping my employer doesn’t read your Blog or my reply until I decide to finally “retire” in 2021 (after 25 years with the same organization).

    Keep your insights and inspirational commentary coming! All the best, Randy

  2. Art Schwartz

    There are always exceptions, particularly from exceptional people

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